My Medical School Journey – From NYC Charter School to Working as a Physician


 

People often ask me when I knew I wanted to be a doctor. As clichéd as it may sound, I always knew that was what I wanted to do with my life. 

During my early years, the classic game “Operation” would keep me engrossed for hours at a time. As I grew older, I would also ask friends and family to be my “patients” and play-act at diagnosing their problems and giving them prescriptions to fix whatever aches and pains they complained about.  

While no one in my family was practicing medicine, my parents were extremely supportive of my dream and did everything they could to help make it happen. Every time we visited a doctor for a checkup, they would mention that I wanted to go into healthcare someday. Without fail, each doctor would respond with, “That’s great, John, but you know you’ll have to study really hard, right?” or something else along the same lines.

 

Admission into NY Charter School and the Early Years


I wasn’t afraid of the hard work, though. As a kid growing up in New York City, I was fortunate enough to get admitted into a charter school in my pre-teen years. With the encouragement and support of my teachers at Kipp Infinity Charter School, I started working towards building the skills I would need if I wanted to get into med school. 

When my young peers were out playing basketball or showing off their skateboarding skills, I was poring over books on MCAT preparation and worrying about the dreaded medical school application I would have to write someday. My parents and charter school teachers never tried to downplay how difficult the journey would be, but instead focused on mentally preparing me for the grueling task that lay ahead.


Preparing for the MCAT and Pre-Med Studies


I joined college as a science major, and started seriously considering a strategy for clearing the MCAT in one go. I had graduated high school with a very good GPA, and consistently scored well on science courses in school. Still, I’d seen classmates scoring less than 20 when they took the test without prep, no matter how smart they were. I didn’t want to make the same mistake!

Even though you can take the test more than once, I felt it made more sense to put in extra time on preparation and take the test a little later, rather than facing the disappointment of a bad score on my first attempt. Instead of taking the test in my junior year, I spent the summer of my senior year doing extra research so I could ace the MCAT right on the first attempt. 

I finally took the test that fall and scored 29, which was less than I had been hoping for but still better than the average for most of my class (this was before the scoring system changed to a 3-git score). I knew I would be able to get interviews with a few good medical schools, and move onward in my journey towards becoming a physician.


Getting Admission into Medical School


Over the next few weeks, I applied to more than a dozen different medical schools across the Northeast, primarily along the Eastern seaboard. If possible, I wanted to stay close to home at least until my residency began. 

Luckily for me, I got interviews with 9 of them and was accepted by 4 different schools including the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine in Long Island. I eventually decided to join NYIT-COM since it had a great four-year D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) program, an excellent residency match/placement rate, and was closest to my home.


My Four-Year Journey in Med School and Clearing the USMLE


The four years I spent in med school were the most challenging time of my life, but also the most rewarding experience I could have hoped for. I had the opportunity to interact with a bunch of talented faculty members and forge strong friendships with other students in my classes. By my third year, was interning with a tertiary care hospital in the vicinity and preparing for the USMLE with everything I had. 

I eventually signed up for some prep classes for Step 2 CS through NYCS Prep, and cleared the USMLE exam with their help. I got a residency match soon after graduating from med school, and was finally practicing medicine after so much hard work. 

I was fascinated by osteopathy, which is so similar to regular medicine but focuses on disease prevention and promoting better overall health. As a practicing physician today, I try to follow the same principles and help my patients achieve better health instead of just treating specific complaints and issues!



NY Charter Schools 2012 Reunion

A recent reunion of the New York Charter Schools brought together people for all over the United States, and also several who have settled abroad. It was a splendid three day event where people from so many different avenues of life came together to bond once again.

New York

The first day was the Grand Opening of the event where there was a Meet and Greet held at one of the Charter Schools’ convention hall.

The second day was a scavenger hunt through the Big Apple that made the ex-students fall in love with what was once their home. For the ones still living in New York, it was an event that led to new discoveries.

The final and the third day had two events. First there was the brunch and then in the evening was the Grand Gala where the ex-students mingled one last time before parting and celebrated their reunion into the wee hours of the night, talking, dancing, and smiling away.

Each of the three days was organized and planned by three ex-students who volunteered. Neither of the three currently lives in New York, but the love for their schools, and the love for their city, as well as their zeal and enthusiasm, led them to volunteer for the tasks. They organized task forces and collaborated with other ex-students to gather as much help as they could. They further also collaborated with each other and used unconventional ways to organize these three days without once physically meeting each other.

The team, now known as the “Three Musketeers” arrived just the evening before the reunion started and we welcomed them and had just a short time to interview them. We interviewed them to understand how they managed to pull off such a mammoth event in order to document it for the current and future students of NY Charter Schools.

But, now it is being shared here so that others can also be encouraged and motivated by their deeds. For privacy reasons, their names and places of employment have been omitted from the interview summaries.

Read further to learn a little bit about these “Three Musketeers” in the summaries of the interviews taken of them.


A Diva that Welcomed Them Back

 

The first day was organized by an ex-student (who we are calling Ms. X here) who graduated 15 years ago and left New York five years after that. She has been married for 7 years now and had a beautiful family with her husband and son. They live in Pleasanton, California. She is a working mother at a high post.


She is an advocate of saving the environment and works all day with compactors. Ms. X shuffles between her personal and professional life, juggling the two very carefully and with finesse. We learnt in the interview that she is the Super Woman sorts. She gets up 4 in the morning and works out, before making breakfast and packed lunch for her, her husband and her son. Then she drops off her son at his school before driving to her own work. She leads a team of 30 people that report to her at work, and is also involved as the head of the CSR activities.

On returning home, she makes dinner and helps her son with her school work. She is also involved in the PTA and coaches softball.

It was her idea that to hold weekly web-cam conferences with the other two volunteers to make sure that the communication is efficient and the physical non-presence is somewhat cut off.

She designed the invites, took care of the mailing list, and designed the pamphlet that had information on the three days. She also took care of the decoration that blew everyone’s mind. She collected pictures from yearbooks, and personal photographs from ex-students that she arranged all around the walls in the convention hall for the first day.

Imagine how meticulous and organized Ms. X had to be to pull this off. No wonder she the Super Woman.

 

The Scavenger Who Sent All on a Chase

 

Mr. Y (the name is just for this interview) is the youngest of the “Three Musketeers” and the most outgoing it seems. He lives in the Phoenix area and moved their after high school. His love for New York and loyalty to his school kept him connected to all his friends and classmates for the last ten years.

He is single and loves to mingle in his free time. He keeps well connected with his family and also tries to organize family reunions and family trips a few times during the year. He loves his job and used cars Phoenix dealerships are all trying to snatch him away for themselves. He is great at his job and his people skills came in handy while he arranged the scavenger hunt for the second day.

His name is what his does helped him score cars that the local dealerships sponsored for the scavenger hunt. How he managed to convince them is beyond any imagination. He was the one who arranged for the majority of funds via sponsorships and donations. He put together a business plan to send to different prospective sponsors with details of the events and their contribution designation. This blueprint business plan was unique and creative and worked wonders. He also made the instruction video for the scavenger hunt that was sent to all the participants’ phones.

He is the modest and hard working kind who does not like the fame and glory and the well deserved credit for his efforts.